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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from Pray Connecticut

Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2008 from Pray Connecticut!

We will resume publishing in January.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Last minute Christmas gifts

One more week to go to get that special something for that special someone! If you're stuck, here are some suggestions.

BOOKS: The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association's Bestsellers List, December, 2007:

1. Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life, Tony Dungy

2. 3:16: The Numbers of Hope,Max Lucado

3. 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life, Don Piper with Cecil Murphey

4. Between Sundays, Karen Kingsbury

5. Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk about God's Deliverance, Beth Moore

6. Home to Holly Springs (Father Tim, Book 1), Jan Karon

7. Breaking Free Day by Day: A Year of Walking in Liberty, Beth Moore

8. Become a Better You, Joel Osteen

9. Jesus: 90 Days With the One and Only (Personal Reflections), Beth Moore

10. Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You, Max Lucado

MUSIC: Praise and Worship Bestsellers, from Amazon's sales reporting

1. All That Is Within Me by MercyMe (Audio CD - 2007)

2. Remedyby David Crowder Band (Audio CD - 2007)

3. The Christmas Sessionsby Mercy Me (Audio CD - 2005)

4. See the Morningby Chris Tomlin (Audio CD - 2006)

5. Portable Soundsby Tobymac (Audio CD - 2007)

6. Coming Up to Breatheby MercyMe (Audio CD - 2006)

7. Open the Eyes of My Heartby Various Artists (Audio CD - 2005)

8. Thirstyby Marvin Sapp (Audio CD - 2007)

9. I Can Only Imagine: Ultimate Power Anthems of the Christian Faith

10. See the Morning (CD/DVD)by Chris Tomlin (Audio CD - 2007) - Special Edition

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The demonstrable falsity of Mormonism

I've been having a reasonably civil discussion in a comment thread with a lady who is apparently a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). The recent Mitt Romney stories have threatened to bring what Mormons really believe to the forefront. But American society has so compartmentalized religious belief that it will no longer analyze it rationally. True to form, most Americans either don't care what a person's religious beliefs are (which can in a sense be a good thing) or else say that a thorough inspection of a person's religion is bigotry.

What to do then with a religion which seemingly has no basis at all in historical fact? Does it matter at all that Mormonism purports to reveal (or restore) a lost revelation about God and history for which there is no evidence? The history of North America put forward by Mormons is such a fabrication that it is actually painful to relate it. It is not worthy in this regard to be compared to the historical evidence, say, for Christianity, and for the trustworthiness of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. Witness this excerpt from the Baptist Press:

Hill Cumorah is located in New York, southeast of Rochester. Joseph Smith claimed that when Moroni appeared to him, he was told that Moroni's father, Mormon, buried the gold plates upon which the Book of Mormon was based on the hill Cumorah just before the great final battle there (Mormon 6:6). In the Pearl of Great Price, Smith writes that the day after his second vision, he went to a large hill outside of the village where his family lived (the hill Cumorah) and found the gold plates (endnote 26). This identifies the hill where Smith dug up the plates as the same hill where Mormon buried them and where the great battle took place. In Mormon 6:10-15, it is claimed that hundreds of thousands of people were killed on or near the hill Cumorah during that final battle. It says that "their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth" (Mormon 6:15). In other words, their bodies were left there, unburied.

To help you understand the magnitude of casualties at hill Cumorah, let us consider another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War, 55,000 soldiers were wounded, including 6,000 of them killed on the battlefield and 4,000 more whose wounds were mortal. Eyewitnesses said that there was so much blood from the dead and injured that there were parts of the battlefield that seemed like streams of blood. So many men and horses died that all could not be buried at once and many corpses were left on the battlefield until a few days later when others were hired to do the task.

If 6,000 men died on the battlefield at Gettysburg, what would a battlefield look like with hundreds of thousands dead? Since they were left unburied at hill Cumorah, wouldn't there be some artifacts made of metal and stone? Bullets by the thousands are found at Gettysburg. Nothing, however, has been found at hill Cumorah.

University of Rochester paleontologist and stratigrapher Carl Brett has worked in the Palmyra, N.Y, area where hill Cumorah is located and is familiar with the hill and its geologic conditions. He says that if hundreds of thousands were slaughtered at the hill and not buried, there would still be skeletal remains on the surface today, even after 1,600 years. Scavengers and weather conditions would account for why much is gone, but there would still be quite enough left to look at. Metallic artifacts from weapons and armor would also be easily found (endnote 27). But nothing has ever been found at hill Cumorah.

This is just one of many things that could be cited. Is it wrong to discuss this type of information, or to discuss Mormon teachings about the spirit brotherhood of Jesus and Satan?

Not only is Mormonism not a Christian religion, it also is untrue as a matter of historical fact. We know there was a Pontius Pilate; we know that James the Lord's brother was killed in a certain manner; etc. But there was no battle at the hill Cumorah.

Do you have your "Jesus glasses" on?

If a public high school teacher were to say to his students, "When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can see the truth," you can bet the American Civil Liberties Union and others would say that the teacher was promoting Christianity, that it was a violation of the separation of church and state. And the school administration would probably agree.

But what if a public high school teacher tells his students that "When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth"? Isn't that essentially the same thing? Isn't disparaging a certain religion in a public school classroom just as legally improper as promoting a certain religion?

Interesting stuff regarding a Federal lawsuit against a high school teacher.

Flickr photo by Ben Ostrowsky; some rights reserved.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How can you make sure people leave your church this Christmas?

question mark

Sadly, this is an all-too-common example of the rhetoric that drives people from churches. The Rev. Dr. Gary A. Wilburn of New Canaan, Connecticut says:

“When I hear language like, ‘You can’t be saved unless you accept Christ as your personal savior,’ I know that it is usually sincere and heart-felt. But what it most likely means is ‘We are on the inside and you are on the outside. Ours is the only true faith. If you do it our way, you’ll have better access to God than the followers of Buddha or Mohammed, or Mary Baker Eddy, or Charles Darwin, or the ‘inner light,’ or whatever, We welcome everyone into God’s family as long as you’re willing to become like us,” he said.

“That kind of insular theology makes Christianity a religion of exclusion, not inclusion,” Dr. Wilburn added. “A far cry from the universality of which the Bible speaks when it claims, ‘There is one God who is father of all, over all, through all and within all,” and “God is love, and anyone who lives in love, lives in God and God in him [or her].’ As a progressive Christian, I see in Jesus the true image and likeness of God. For me, Jesus is the face of God, the heart of God, the way of God. Jesus shows me what a life full of God looks like. For Christians, Jesus is our access into the realm of God. But at that same time I recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for their access into God’s realm. Because at the end of day, I believe that God is bigger than any of our ideas about God.”

But what if there actually was a revelation from God that told us what God thinks about things and, particularly, about Himself, who He is and what He is like?

At the risk of sounding rude: Attention! People go to Christian churches because they want to worship God through Jesus Christ. When liberal Christian theologians stop castigating people for - well, for believing what it is that Christians believe, they may be able to reverse the trends of departure and demographic winter in their denominations.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Colorado shooter allegedly heard voices, talked with them

Colorado shooter Matthew Murray was "troubled," in today's parlance. The reality of the situation is that he was not only emotionally disturbed but under spiritual influences he could not control and, indeed, seemed to welcome. From CNN:

I-Report contributor Richard Werner, 34, said Monday he was a worker at the center in Arvada, Colorado, in 2002, the same time as Murray.

Werner said five days before Murray was told in 2002 he could not make the Bosnia trip, Murray performed a pair of dark rock songs at a concert at the mission that made fellow workers "pretty scared."

The performance -- which included a song by rock band Linkin Park and another that had been recorded by controversial rocker Marilyn Manson -- followed months of strange behavior, Werner said.

Werner, of Balneario Camborius, Brazil, said he had a bunk near Murray's and that Murray would roll around in bed and make noises.

"He would say, 'Don't worry, I'm just talking to the voices,' " Werner said. "He'd say, 'Don't worry, Richard. You're a nice guy. The voices like you.' "

Werner said he instantly suspected Murray when he heard the news of Sunday's shootings.

"I turned to my wife and I said, 'I know who did it. It's Matthew,' " he said. "It was so obvious.

"For four months, he was sleeping right next to me. Those are the things you don't imagine, but when it happened it was so obvious."

I'm sure these things will be little reported, and understood even less. In North America even Christians have a difficult time coming to grips with the reality of demonic forces.

Connecticut's crime rate low

Statistics from the FBI show Connecticut ranks among the dozen safest states in the U.S., with a below-average number of all types of crime except robberies, according to a new report compiled by state officials.

It is unclear how the report will influence the current debate on criminal justice reforms triggered by July's triple-murder in Cheshire. Gov. M. Jodi Rell's task force on parole, which requested the report, is scheduled to recommend changes by the end of the year.

The legislature's Judiciary Committee will hold a special session to debate several proposals, including a so-called three strikes law, before the regular session starts in February.

Thank God for this, although many sore spots remain. More here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Breakup of the Episcopal Church begins in earnest

Ridley and Latimer meet their end.

And so it begins, although it won't happen in our Cute Little State.

A California diocese overwhelmingly voted on Saturday to sever ties with The Episcopal Church, becoming the first diocese in the church's history to do so.

Despite warning from the head of the national church, delegates of the Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 to secede and realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

"This is the first time, I believe, that a diocese has finally said 'enough' in terms of the liberal theology of The Episcopal Church," said Bishop John David Schofield of the San Joaquin diocese before the vote.

Can you shake the hand of a Jew?

I received this commentary from Glory of Zion:
"So they served him [Joseph] by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians" (Genesis 43:32; emphases ours).

The verse above was included in the Torah Reading for this week, and released in us a corresponding note to a bizarre happening at the recent "Annapolis" conference. Referring to her childhood as an African American girl in the segregated American South, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying, "I know what it is like to hear that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness." Yet at the conference, bowing to Saudi demands, the Americans refused to allow the Israeli delegation to enter the hall through the same door as the Arabs. The Israeli Foreign Secretary Tzipi Livni was reportedly required by Rice to instead enter the conference hall through the service entrance. At a meeting of foreign ministers, Livni was driven to explain, "Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand? Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?" This at a conference to which Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries had been invited for "contributions" they might have towards furthering peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

In fairness, I'm aware from other reports that Ms. Rice also drew parallels between her childhood sense of terror and the Israelis' fears of terrorism, but why should the U. S. government bend over backwards to legitimize the hatred of Jews?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Speaking of atheists...

Dinesh D'Souza writes forcefully today about why atheists are so angry:

One reason I think is that they are God-haters. Atheists often like to portray themselves as "unbelievers" but this is not strictly accurate. If they were mere unbelievers they would simply live their lives as if God did not exist. I don't believe in unicorns, but then I haven't written any books called The End of Unicorns, Unicorns are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion. Clearly the atheists go beyond disbelief; they are on the warpath against God. And you can hear their bitterness not only in their book titles but also in their mean-spirited invective.

Atheists in Vernon

From Channel 8:

A sign posted by Atheists in the Rockville's Central Park has people talking, prompting calls to the town hall and the local clergy.

The Connecticut Valley Atheists posted the three-sided sign, which some call a billboard, and it was the only sign in the town center marking the Holiday season. Two sides of the display feature the Twin Towers, framed by the words "Imagine No Religion."

Yawn. What is interesting here is the equation of all religions here, as if religion in the abstract, or the religious impulse in human beings knocked down the Twin Towers. What atheists and others of a liberal bent are afraid to do is point out that the impulse of some religionists is to kill all who disagree with them, and intimidate others from speaking. That religion is not Christianity.

The Colorado shootings

Dan Wooding at Assist News wonders if persecution has finally come to the American Church and, if so, are we ready?

Fox News reports: "The police chief in Arvada, a suburb about 15 miles west of Denver where the mission workers were shot, said the shootings may be related to those at the Colorado Springs church but declined to elaborate."

Trench coats, high-powered rifles and an armed female security guard taking down the shooter. What a nightmare. We pray for all involved.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is Mormonism a Christian religion?

Utah mountains
Utah has great mountains. But maybe not such great theology.

Quite a lot of this in the news this week. Here, Baptist apologist Mike Licona talks about his investigations into the truth of Mormonism:

My second discovery was that the Book of Abraham, which is counted among the Mormon scriptures, discredits founder Joseph Smith as a true prophet. In 1835, Smith purchased some mummies that were accompanied by some ancient Egyptian papyri. Smith claimed to be able to translate the papyri because they were written in Egyptian, very similar to the "Reformed Egyptian," which Smith claimed was the language of the Book of Mormon. As he translated the manuscripts, he asserted it contained the Book of Abraham, a book written by Abraham himself.

The papyri for the Book of Abraham contained some drawings with Egyptian writing that were subsequently published in Times and Seasons, a Mormon newspaper. The papyri were lost after Smith's death in 1844 but were rediscovered in 1967 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York who returned them to the Mormon church which in turn confirmed them to be the originals and published them for others to see. A Mormon academic journal named "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought" asked three prominent Egyptologists to translate the papyri. If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, the contemporary translation would be very close to Smith's. The stakes were high, since the translations of the Egyptologists either could confirm Joseph Smith as a true prophet or expose him as a charlatan. For if Joseph Smith was terribly wrong in his translation of the Book of Abraham, it casts doubt on the Book of Mormon, too.

John Wilson and Klaus Baer, both professors of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, and Richard Parker, a professor of Egyptology at Brown University, were asked to do the task. The results were devastating. All concluded that the manuscript was a common Egyptian document buried with mummies for guidance in the afterlife and was not used until at least a thousand years after Abraham. They also concluded that Smith's translation did not bear the slightest resemblance to the actual translation. This is especially important when we consider that Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was written in the same language. Since it can be demonstrated that Smith was gravely mistaken in his translation abilities when it came to the Book of Abraham, why should anything but the same conclusion be drawn pertaining to his ability allegedly to translate the Book of Mormon?

Read the rest here at Baptist Press.

Flickr photo by Katie; some rights reserved.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The number of same-sex civil unions in Connecticut plummets

Why have civil unions dropped almost in half from 2006 to 2007?

Is it because people are waiting for full marriage rights or is it because there really isn't that much demand for it?

I suspect the latter.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Behold The Lamb concert comes to New Milford

St. Paul's Church in Brookfield is sponsoring a concert called Behold the Lamb: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ on December 8 at New Milford High. It will feature Andrew Peterson, Bebo Norman, Sara Groves, Jill Phillips, and many more.

For tickets, visit:

Watch this documentary about the making of Behold the Lamb:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cohabitation in Connecticut

Peter Wolfgang at FIC has a noteworthy piece here about cohabitation and child violence. I suppose it would be too much for people to acknowledge that the twin evils of easy divorce and cohabitation are actually evil, but perhaps crimes of violence against children will cause some people to think.

Modesty and purity dances get publicity

A look from a major U. S. paper into the modesty trend:

It was an evening for couples—girls in formal gowns, tiaras and curly updos, escorted by their dads, in tuxedos or dressy suits and ties.

They dined on roast beef and waltzed to classical music in a ballroom decorated with draped crosses and a mannequin in a white wedding gown. They listened as a guest speaker warned of the dangers of premarital sex. Then they stood at their tables, looked each other in the eye and vowed that they would remain pure.

He signed a pledge to be the protector of her purity and to live his own life with integrity. She gave her father a gold key to her heart, and asked him to hold on to it until her wedding day, when he would hand it over to her husband. They walked down the aisle with locked arms and she laid a white rose beside a cross, sealing her commitment....

For abstinence-only advocates such as Dannah Gresh, author of "And the Bride Wore White," there is no middle ground in the eyes of God. She brushes off criticism that her message is closed-minded and ineffective.

"Everyone has the right to promote their position. It seems contradictory to say you're open-minded by handing these girls condoms and not giving me the right to encourage them not to reach for them," said Gresh, the guest speaker at the Peoria purity ball. "These girls already know about condoms. We are telling them there is an alternative."

Read the rest here from the Chicago Tribune.